Where is the National Plan for Agriculture?

New Zealand's agriculture provides 60% of overseas income. With this huge percentage of exported agriculture, should we not have a National Agriculture Plan? At the very least to honour this great country that provides our export earnings, and allows us the lifestyle and standards that we have become accustomed to. More than that, the sudden demand for all foods across all sectors, on the back of a hungry world, puts us even more in the spotlight. It is little wonder our dollar has been slow to drop because we have what the world wants. Clean and green surplus food.

There are 4 million people, 8,887,000 cattle and 49,466,000 sheep in New Zealand. The New Zealand economy relies on exports of wool, meat, dairy, forestry and fishing. It also states that our main exports are beef and veal, lamb, mutton and hogget, fish, milk, cream, yoghurt, butter, cheese and milk powders, timber and logs, fruit and vegetables and wool. It also states that tourism is increasing. Yet, here we have Fonterra absolutely flying on every international dairy commodity market and doing a great job, but we have no National Agricultural Plan (NAP).

The National Agriculture Plan could include policies on:
  • One liaison point with the government; with all the pressure on agriculture to be clean, green and tidy the government will be able to talk to one body and that body would represent all agriculture. Federated Farmers are doing their very best but it needs the support of every farmer in the country and recognition by all sides of the fence.
  • Research and development. Funding should be approved and allocated into agriculture to improve research and development. It is clear that any
    investment in research and development in agriculture shows a 25% return to the country.
  • Standards for effluent disposal in line with the RMA.
  • A fertiliser and nutrient policy for the whole country.
  • Protection of our elite soils from ever spreading urbanisation and small rural residential blocks. This is going to be a big problem for New Zealand as all our cities are close to good productive land which is being gobbled up at a rapid rate. As the demand comes on for food and biofuels any land that is available for growing crops and agriculture is going to come under increasing pressure.
  • A food safety policy. A 'gate to plate' policy, where growers are accountable for their products.
  • Biosecurity.
  • Animal welfare.
  • Environmental standards.
  • Tenure review.
  • Transmission lines, compensation standards and so on.
  • A water usage policy. Agreement on allocation between Agriculture and Commerce.
If we had a National Agriculture Plan (NAP) this would allow agriculture to operate under its own code and its own plan. Everything would be in the National Plan and it would prevent government and various interested parties from dabbling and interfering in agriculture.

The National Agriculture Plan would have to be formulated by industry leaders in conjunction with political interests and other vested interests, including Fish and Game, Power Generators and so on.

This Plan could assist in giving farmers and New Zealanders the pride and structures to plan their future, working together, without interference from politicians. The tenure review process is a very good example of no clear policy and interference from political interests.

New Zealand needs to also attract and retain the brightest young people into agriculture. Singapore has taken their top 100 students, sent them to the best universities in the world and invested $1 Million in each of them. That's a $100 Million investment into the future of their country. These students are then bonded to return to Singapore for a set period of time. This is the type of thing that New Zealand agriculture needs to think about also.

In summary, New Zealand needs a National Agricultural Plan (NAP). It needs unity and it needs one point of contact for all interested parties. The National Agriculture Plan could protect our elite soils, look after the land and be one point of liaison for all parties.

New Zealand as a country needs this national plan to go forward into the future. The nation needs the income from this industry to support our standard of living.


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